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Filipinos All Over the United States Joined the May 1 Great American Boycott and Immigrant

by Arturo P. Garcia Thursday, May. 04, 2006 at 5:51 PM 213-241-0906 1610 Beverly Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90026

From Los Angeles and Seattle in the West to Chicago in the Midwest to Houston in the South and Miami, Florida in the Southeast up to New York, Manhattan in the Northeast, hundreds of Filipinos joined their fellow immigrants in the millions to demand full immigrant rights and amnesty. Thousands of them joined the boycott or just watched and wildly cheered from the sidelines flying the American flags as the Filipino contingents marched by.

CDIR Report

Filipinos All Over the United States Joined the May 1 Great American Boycott and Immigrant Marches

From Los Angeles and Seattle in the West to Chicago in the Midwest to Houston in the South and Miami, Florida in the Southeast up to New York, Manhattan in the Northeast, hundreds of Filipinos joined their fellow immigrants in the millions to demand full immigrant rights and amnesty. Thousands of them joined the boycott or just watched and wildly cheered from the sidelines flying the American flags as the Filipino contingents marched by.

In Historic Filipinotown, residents went out of their homes, watched from the windows and verandas, and gave moral support to the marchers. Bus and vehicle drivers honked their horns and gave victory sign to the marchers. Latino residents shouted Viva! and egged the marchers on as they marched along the Beverly-Rampart corridor along the way to Wilshire-Westlake area..

For the first time, the slogan, NO TO THE GUEST WORKERS PROGRAM!, was displayed in different places, especially Los Angeles, and marchers strode by carrying the ever-present Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER) sign: FULL RIGHTS FOR ALL IMMIGRANTS! AMNESTY!

The Philippine tri-color flag and the red-and-blue flags of the Alliance for a Just and Lasting Peace in the Philippines (AJLPP) were also ever present during the marches in the 300,000 Chicago march, the 50,000 march in Seattle, Washington in the Pacific Northwest, the more than a million march in Wilshire-West, Los Angeles. In San Francisco, members of the Gabriela Network and KmB-USA marched shoulder to shoulder down Market Street along with nearly 50,000 others from the Embarcadero to the Civic Center Federal Building.

In the East Coast, Filipinos from Damayan Workers Center, Network in Solidarity with the People of the Philippines (NISPOP) and the Ugnayan Youth participated in the more than 200,000 march to Union Square and the Federal Building in Manhattan, New York. They defied the admonition of reactionaries to exclusively display the American flag and proudly unfurled the colors of their respective nations. Immigrants and immigrant rights advocates also formed human chains in New York.

Filipinos from different organizations like the traditional National Federation of Filipino Associations (NAFFA), the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA) and others also mobilized in Santa Ana (10,000), San Jose (50,000), Las Vegas, Nevada (11,000), Phoenix, Arizona, San Francisco, San Diego and San Isidro (along the US-Mexico border), New Orleans, Louisiana and many other places.

In Los Angeles, traffic on usually busy and gridlocked freeways was very, very light. Many vehicles could be seen dotted with placards or with children on strollers about to join the march. In many neighborhoods, most of the business establishments closed for the day.

In Long Beach and San Pedro, California the ports fell eerily silent. More than 90% of the truckers joined the boycott, congregated in the nearby park, and proudly displayed their placards. In the Silicon Valley, more than 50,000 people joined the march, the largest turnout in that city since the anti-war fever hit the streets in 2002.

In Santa Ana, in the white conservative area of Orange County, the Flipino organizations alliance called the Alyansa ng mga Kababayan students of UC Irvine joined the 10,000-strong Latino march. The police dispersed the rally and arrested some people during the early afternoon and night.

In Los Angeles, in the marches from downtown to City Hall and Westlake MacArthur Park to La Brea, the Filipinos, the Asian Pacific Islanders (API) and as well as the South Asians made their presence felt in the heavily Latino crowds. The Korean Immigrant Workers Association (KIWA) and Mindullae, as usual, marched and danced with their drums and cymbals. The Filipinos banged their drums to the Ati-Atihan beat and displayed more than 30 flags of different colors of their organizations.

The predominantly Latino marchers gave rousing cheers and parted their ranks to give way to the Filipino groups led by the Coalition in Defense of Immigrant Rights (CDIR) – People’s CORE, Pilipino Workers Center (PWC), Alliance of Filipino Workers (AFW), Gabriela Network-USA, Kabataang maka-Bayan (KmB-Pro People Youth)-USA, UCLA Samahang Pilipino, UCLA SPACE, and Pesante-USA.

The Latinos and Latinas eagerly expressed their support for the Filipino contingent who marched together with the Salvadorenos holding up Salvadorian flags. A large Salvadorian community also resides in Historic Filipinotown. They danced with the beat of the Ati-Atihan and the drums beat for Si, Se Puede and El Pueblo Unido chants.

The Filipino contingent marched with the Latino immigrants on their way to MacArthur Park along the Beverly Corridor and was greeted with loud honks of cars and long shouts of Si Se, Puede! Viva la Raza! (We Can Do It! Long live the People!)

The mainstream CNN even joined up with the Spanish language Univision to report on local rallies and marches from Chicago to Modesto, California to make sure that they could capture the local color and feelings of the day. As usual, to show their so-called objective reporting, the CNN featured the reactionary paramilitary Minutemen building fences along the controversial Mexico-US border.

But while it went unreported in the mainstream corporate media, protests in the U.S. were also matched with solidarity actions on the other side of the border by progressive labor unions and militant

people’s organizations in Mexico.

Without a doubt, working people made history on May 1, 2006 on this day that is marked as Labor Day in nearly every other country in the world except where it began. The Great American Boycott the Day Without an Immigrant “ was a resounding success, shutting down factories, offices, business establishments, ports and schools and coming out into the streets by the millions in hundreds of cities and towns.

And Filipinos who account for at least 800,000 of the estimated 12 million undocumented in the U.S. are joining hands with workers and immigrants of all nationalities to serve notice to the U.S. ruling class: Basta! Enough! This scapegoating and criminalization of immigrants and working people must stop. Another guest worker program is unacceptable. Only legalization is acceptable. Only full immigrant rights to all! #


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